B1G Football Week 8 Preview: Trying to Move On

Justin K. Aller

Minnesota and Northwestern look to get back on track after a bye and a blow out loss to Wisconsin; Purdue hopes to lose by less points than they did against Nebraska; Iowa has no chance against Ohio State; Illinois may actually have a puncher's chance against Wisconsin, and Michigan looks to do something Penn State couldn't do...beat Indiana.

12:00 PM Eastern

Minnesota at Northwestern (ESPN2): the Gophers are coming off a bye week after losing to Michigan, and Mitch Leidner will probably get his second start of the season after having a decent game against the Wolverines. He's more of a pocket presence than Philip Nelson, but he's also faster than he looks. At 6'4", he has a long stride that covers a good amount of ground, and he can see over the line of scrimmage. Leidner throws a prettier ball and can get get to open receivers better than Nelson, too. Watch for Leidner to continue looking toward TE Maxx Williams and WR Drew Wolitarsky, each of whom had a good game against the Wolverines. Derek Engel is still in the mix, but it seems as though Isaac Fruechte is the odd man out. The Gophers' running game needs to show some signs of life if they want to beat the Wildcats; they started out relatively strong, but have been bad in their last two match-ups, averaging only 2.2 yards per carry. On the defensive side of the ball, Ra'Shede Hageman is still their best player, but the entire unit is allowing almost six yards per play.

As for Northwestern, the Wildcats are coming off of two heartbreaking performances against Ohio State and Wisconsin which saw them drop to 0-2 in the B1G. According to the Chicago Tribune, Kain Colter and Venric Mark are day-to-day. Then Twitter said they didn't practice on Thursday:

I'm sure at least one of these guys will be back for Saturday's game. If neither one can make it, then the game becomes a little more difficult for Northwestern, but they still have Trevor Siemian and Treyvon Green who can handle the offensive responsibilities. Prediction: Northwestern 30 - Minnesota 28.

Purdue at Michigan State (BTN): just watch the Minny/NW game; seriously. I bet even some Purdue fans are going to skip this one. Michigan State's defense is going to tear apart the Boilermakers' offense and put Danny Etling into some pretty precarious positions. I'm thinking he'll throw at least three interceptions. The MSU offense will continue to improve against a Purdue defense that has...wait, do they have a defense? Prediction: Sparty...BIG.

3:30 PM Eastern

Indiana at Michigan (BTN): where to begin? If the Indiana team that beat Penn State shows up in Ann Arbor, it could be a long day. We can't have Tre Roberson rushing for two TDs while Nate Sudfeld passes for two, and expect to win. However, if the team that played Michigan State shows up, we could still be in trouble. Even against Sparty, the Hoosiers were able to rack up 351 total yards; only 92 of those came on the ground, versus 238 on the ground for MSU, though. Given the way Christian Hackenberg was able to take advantage of Michigan's secondary, Indiana could have similar success. For our Wolverines, if we can take what MSU's run game was able to do, then Fitz should have a much better day. If he struggles, I advocate putting the ball in Derrick Green's hands the rest of the day to see what he can do. Please, Al Borges, don't continue running if it is clear to everyone on the planet that it isn't going to work for you. You've got other weapons with which you can make your adjustments. Prediction: Michigan bounces back, but not convincingly. Michigan 21 - Indiana 13.

Iowa at Ohio State (ABC/ESPN2): Iowa is 4-2 this season, but the combined record of the teams they've beaten is 6-19; the combined record of the teams to whom they've lost: 11-1. The lone team with a winning record that Iowa defeated was Minnesota, who is currently at 4-2 and possibly sliding. Sophomore quarterback, Jake Rudock, has shown some glimpses of being a decent passer, but he isn't going to be able to overcome being a 17-point dog. Iowa's offensive and defensive lines looked good against the Gophers, but I don't see them getting the same kind of push against the Buckeyes. Although Ohio State looks vulnerable, they have beaten everyone they've faced, and there's no real reason to believe that they won't beat the Hawkeyes in the Horseshoe. Prediction: Iowa won't be able to hang around very long; they'll score first, but OSU will fire back with extreme prejudice. OSU 42 - Iowa 7.

8:00 PM Eastern

Wisconsin at Illinois (BTN): when it comes to Wisconsin, what else are we supposed to talk about but the running game. I mean, these guys are averaging almost 300 yards rushing per game (298 to be exact). When you consider the fact that Illinois allowed Washington's Bishop Sankey to rush for 208, and Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah to go for 225, Saturday night is going to be a very long night for the Illini. It's also important to note that Jared Abbrederis will be back for the Badgers, after being knocked out of the Northwestern game. Bill Cubit will need to call a brilliant game for Nathan Scheelhaase if the Illini want to beat one of the best pass defenses in the B1G; the Badgers are allowing only 177 yards per game in conference play, while the Illini are averaging 281 yards per game. Zack Miller at Bucky's 5th Quarter threw out this little nugget on the history with Illinois:

Consider this: the Badgers are in the midst of a three game winning streak against the Illini for the sixth time in the 188-year history of this series but only once they have gone on to win four in a row.

That's rough. Prediction: the Badgers will win four in a row for the second time in series history, and they'll do it in convincing fashion. UW 49 - Illinois 17.

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